We have six brown hens outside the bedroom window at River View Pateley. Children will give you six individual names for them, although it is tough for anyone over the age of twelve to tell them apart. Cookie, Cream, Peanut, Hazel, Bock and... one other are where the eggs come from at the holiday cottage. There used to be another with the unfortunate title KFC, but she was lost to a stoat a couple of months ago. I suppose we were tempting fate calling her that.
In the late afternoon, the hens take their daily constitutional across the lawn, around the flower bed and into the neighbours' garden. They follow the tracks of the local pheasant, scratch around in the undergrowth and generally make themselves at home for a while. The habit has got so regular that we have taken to paying the neighbours a small rent of eggs. Occasionally the dog catches them at it and thinks it might be playtime. She is practicing her herding skills and has got quite good at chasing them back to their grassy area around the coop. She gets no eggs for this. She is tied up and told off instead.
So the chickens carry on strutting where they will, peck at what they like and, generally rule the roost.